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Australian Law and Politics

Robodebt architect now has NDIS recipients in his sights


Jason Ryman, the architect of Centrelink’s infamous Robodebt scheme, was seconded to the NDIA with the task of using a similar scheme to target recipients of NDIS funding.

The NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) is the agency charged with overseeing the running of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).

The secondment was made by former ministers Stuart Robert and Linda Reynolds as a reward for his work in creating Robodebt, which the ministers were highly impressed with.

Ryman is working closely with Scott Britton, his former director at the Department of Human Services, who approved the Robodebt scheme.

Britton’s role as a branch manager of the NDIA is to identify potential and actual frauds, and claw back money already paid to NDIS recipients.

This sounds frighteningly like what they did with Robodebt, and they claim they can recover $700 million.

They claim they are using “behavioural science” to identify the living patterns of NDIS recipients, and plan to exclude anything they regard as “normal living expenses.”

It is not clear what they regard as normal living expenses, and this seems to be completely at their discretion. Nor is it clear what theories of behavioural science they are relying on.

Anybody who had dealings with Robodebt will know that the new NDIS scheme is almost certain to create hardship and distress for those that Ryman and Britton are targeting.

It is almost certain that there will be the same culture of secrecy around how the debts have been raised, the same level of bullying and the same lack of concern for their victims.

It is even more insidious by the fact that NDIS recipients are more vulnerable than most who were targeted by Robodebt, in that many on NDIS have impairments that prevent them from fighting back.

The process of appealing against a decision by the NDIS, whether it be the raising of a debt, the withholding of necessary living supports or both, is long and complicated.

First there is an internal review, then the matter has to be referred to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), the AAT has to ask for another review by the NDIS, the recipient has to collect and collate evidence to support their case at the AAT, the NDIS can refer the matter to a second AAT hearing if the case is won by the recipient and ultimately the NDIS can refer the matter to the Federal Court if they lose the second AAT hearing.

While all this is happening, the NDIS recipient does not receive the supports required by their disability, has to continue repaying a debt (if one has been raised) and can incur huge legal costs in fighting the matter.

The NDIS staff, on the other hand, continue to collect their wages, and have the benefit of almost unlimited financial and legal resources. They can hire teams of lawyers to prove their case and drag the matter out for months.

The mindset, as with Robodebt, seems to be to break the recipient so that they will simply give up, and the NDIS can feel vindicated that they were right all along. It is the same mindset as Centrelink.

The solution seems to be simple. Once the recipient has lodged a request for an internal or external review, the NDIS or Centrelink should put the decision on hold until AFTER the reviews are completed. The agencies should continue providing the supports needed or place the collection of the debt on hold until after the appeals process has been exhausted.

Unfortunately, this is not how it works in practice in the world of these public servants.

In a court system in the real world, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is not the way the NDIS or Centrelink operate.

Once a clerk in either department have made a decision, it is held as binding throughout the appeals process and there is no room for flexibility.

NDIA do not communicate directly with NDIS recipients, and this means communications become complicated.

This needs to change. These are Australia’s most vulnerable and they need to be treated with care and respect.

It is time the relevant ministers in these departments reviewed the operations of the agencies. Bill Shorten needs to get rid of the likes of Ryman and Britton, and the toxic culture they are creating, and Amanda Rishworth need to do the same with Centrelink.

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The money raised will be spent on campaigning to state and federal MP s, as well as newspapers and other media across Australia, to improve social justice for all.

Please bear in mind that while I am a business consultant, I only work part time due to also being a disabled pensioner. I intend to take these matters to court, but that takes time and money.

Any money raised through donations will be kept in a separate bank account to cover these costs.

I would also welcome any help from legal professionals, or professionally qualified volunteers who are willing to assist.

The costs of campaigning for changes to government legislation are considerable. If you appreciate this work, please consider donating so we can continue operating in this area.

The money raised will be spent on campaigning to state and federal MP s, as well as newspapers and other media across Australia, to improve social justice for all.

Please bear in mind that while I am a business consultant, I only work part time due to also being a disabled pensioner. I intend to take these matters to court, but that takes time and money.

Any money raised through donations will be kept in a separate bank account to cover these costs.

I would also welcome any help from legal professionals, or professionally qualified volunteers who are willing to assist.

The costs of campaigning for changes to government legislation are considerable. If you appreciate this work, please consider donating so we can continue operating in this area.

The money raised will be spent on campaigning to state and federal MP s, as well as newspapers and other media across Australia, to improve social justice for all.

Please bear in mind that while I am a business consultant, I only work part time due to also being a disabled pensioner. I intend to take these matters to court, but that takes time and money.

Any money raised through donations will be kept in a separate bank account to cover these costs.

I would also welcome any help from legal professionals, or professionally qualified volunteers who are willing to assist.

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About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner. Business and Education Consultant. Former Business/ESL Teacher. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications.

Discussion

One thought on “Robodebt architect now has NDIS recipients in his sights

  1. Good day, when was the last time, in the Federation or Commonwealth of Australia that we had a Prime Minister from Victoria?
    I don’t need to look it up fruit Sydney but not Canberra (Resting place) the ancient Indigenous peoples called it!

    Posted by Steve D | January 22, 2023, 18:14

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